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Screening Mammogram

All NorthShore Breast Diagnostic Centers and breast cancer screening sites are fully certified and accredited according to FDA/MQSA and American College of Radiology regulations. 

About Screening Mammogram

A screening mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray procedure that films the internal tissues of our breasts. Mammograms are a simple exam, performed as a standard screening study, to determine the possibility of irregularities within the breast. They can reveal areas too small or deep to feel which may or may not require further investigation.  Since this is a screening exam a doctor’s order is not necessary but we must have the name of the physician that will receive the results. 

Does Every Woman Need A Mammogram? 

Yes. Presently we don't know the cause of breast cancer, but early detection through breast cancer screening is a woman's best protection. A mammogram may help discover a change as small as the head of a pin, years before it can be felt. Additionally, having screening mammograms done on a regular basis allows for comparisons of a baseline study with future mammograms. This provides a more accurate assessment of any breast changes. The sooner detected, the easier and more successful the treatment. 

When Should I Have My Screening Mammogram?

The American Cancer Society guidelines, based upon numerous scientific studies, suggest that most women begin by age 40 and continue yearly for the rest of their lives. Your health care provider can help you determine when you should begin and how often you should have a mammogram based upon specific medical facts in your history. 

Guidelines for Early Detection of Breast Cancer in Women 


American Cancer Society guidelines 

20 to 39 years

Clinical breast examination every three years
Monthly self-examination of breasts

Age 40 years and older

Annual mammogram
Annual clinical breast examination
Monthly self-examination of breasts

Information from Leitch AM, Dodd GD, Costanza M, Linver M, Pressman P, McGinnis L, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer: update 1997. CA Cancer J Clin 1997;47:150-3.  

What Will The Exam Be Like?

 A radiologic technologist specializing in mammography will perform the screening mammogram. The technologist has completed a rigorous course in education and training and works under close supervision of the radiologist to assure the most accurate results from your examination. You will be asked to undress from the waist up. The technologist will position your breast and gently compress it upon the image plate (which contains the film). It is necessary to spread the breast tissue to reduce the thickness of the breast. This allows for lower doses of radiation and the clearest possible x-ray image. You will probably have at least two pictures taken in different positions. The procedure will then be repeated for the other breast. 

The procedure usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes. 

How Will I Learn the Results?

The radiologist (a physician specialist) will study your mammogram. The results will be made available to you from your designated health care provider or practitioner. Each patient also receives a letter summarizing the results in lay terms. 

Remember: Tell your doctor or technologist, if you are pregnant, think you may be, or if you've had breast surgery. 

You should also: 

  • Wear comfortable clothing and avoid wearing jewelry, deodorants, powders and perfumes — metallics may interfere with the accuracy of the film image 
  • For a more comfortable exam, schedule mammograms for the week after the onset of your period 
  • Bring previous mammograms for comparison 

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, please call 888.364.6400 or request an appointment online. 

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